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Pros: A variety of games and fun animations make number exploration simple and effective.
Cons: A woefully superficial introduction to addition equations and other complicated number manipulations detract from the app's value as a learning tool.
Bottom Line: An engaging way for kids to explore and interact with numbers; some areas will require additional teacher support.
Let kids freely explore Endless Numbers in a learning center. With no tracking and no option to create individual accounts, the app isn't meant to assess learning for individual students. Instead, it's an opportunity for exploration. Teachers could also project the animations onto a larger screen and lead small groups or the whole class in identifying and counting numbers. Supplement the learning by exploring numbers in other ways in the classroom (count objects in the environment and talk about numbers whenever you can).
Provide particular support to learning simple addition equations, since they are introduced in Endless Numbers but not well explained. Help kids visually represent the equations with drawings, physical objects, and/or their fingers. Talk about different ways to make an addition equation true (four can be two and two, or three and one).
In Endless Numbers, each number from 1 to 25 is in a basket on a Ferris wheel. Kids select a number to start the adventure. They watch and listen as the numbers (up to the selected number) appear, either one by one or by skip counting, and then drag all the numbers to their ordinal places, marked by dotted outlines. Next, the number is "broken up" by monsters into an addition problem, and kids drag pieces of the equation to their dotted outlines (e.g., drag 1, a plus sign, and another 1 to make 1+1). The target number then becomes a sleeping monster, and kids tap and count each eye to wake it up: The number 1 monster has one eye, number 2 has two eyes, and so on. Finally, a short animation uses the number in context (e.g., a monster parent pushes a stroller as 1, 2, 3, or 4 monster baby heads poke out). After completing one number, kids automatically move on to the next. The free version of the app offers numbers 1-5; 6-100 are available as an in-app purchase.
Cute animations are fun and engaging, while kid-friendly graphics help make numbers and counting come alive. The games have no right or wrong responses, just open-ended exploration, which makes this an interesting, no-pressure way for kids to experiment with numerals, number names, number order, and number representations (e.g., what does four of something look like?).
The equations and skip counting, unfortunately, don't do quite as well. Both are presented with no background information (e.g., what does the + sign mean?) and no visual aids (e.g., two dots plus two more dots equal four dots). The numbers within equations are random (why do they show 3+1 rather than 2+2?) and don't follow any logical progression that might help kids understand addition. Nonetheless, the merits of the rest of the game make this app worth checking out, especially if teachers supplement the equation introduction with further explanation.